At the University of Newcastle, we know that our city and our tourism sector have all the right elements to make Newcastle a distinctive destination on a global scale: natural beauty, culinary experiences and prestigious vineyards nestled in an accessible and affordable city. On paper, an attractive destination for international tourists, but a destination which hasn’t yielded the same number of Chinese tourists – a $3.2 billion industry - that other parts of NSW has.
After speaking extensively to businesses in the region, the message to the University was clearly that many of our Hunter businesses feel that they don’t have the capability to build their own culture-specific marketing campaigns or social media accounts that are necessary to attract Chinese tourists. Further, understanding what a Chinese consumer values is often complex and requires an ‘inside’ cultural context that many of our businesses simply do not have. Whether that’s setting up WeChat Pay or Alipay facilities, identifying shipping services to/from China or identifying suppliers and channel partners in China, a large degree of cultural context, including language skills, is required.
After listening to this problem, the University set about creating a solution for local industry, utilising our Chinese student population to help businesses target Chinese customers. Connect 88 was created.